The ECHL’s 2019-20 season kicked off in style, with a referee’s view of the Fort Wayne Komets’ home opener.

Referee Jake Rekucki (#20) donned the helmet cam for a 5-2 Komets win over the Kalamazoo Wings. It was a busy night for the stripes, with 54 penalty minutes handed out including one fight and a match penalty for attempt to injure.

The action starts with a quick congrats from the referee to newly-promoted Fort Wayne bench boss Ben Boudreau.

Once the puck drops, the ref cam gives an amazing angle for some big hits, goals, great saves… and some controversial calls

“Twenty eight,” yells Rekucki, calling a penalty. “Playing without a helmet!”

As Fort Wayne’s Matthew Boudens protests, the referee explains the call, made since the player continued in the play instead of heading to the bench.

“You’re swiping at the puck,” Rekucki tells him. You can hear the linesman confirm the ref’s call as the penalty is relayed to the scorekeeper.

Another interesting call was made in the game – this one coming at 3:24 of the video. The play is whistled for a hand pass after Komets goaltender Cole Kehler tossed the puck from his glove to one of his teammates skating through the faceoff circle. That’s a penalty. In the ECHL — and in the NHL — goaltenders are not permitted to throw the puck forward.

Both teams converged on the referee for an explanation.

“The goalie can’t throw it forward,” said the ref. “The goalie can’t grab it and throw it forward.”

“We’re allowed to hand pass in the D zone, though, no?” asks a Komets skater.

“Yes, but not him,” confirms Rekucki, referring to the goalie. “He’s got to put it down to his stick.”

Even the Komets’ goaltender needed some clarification.

“That’s news to me,” said Kehler. “I always thought in the D zone there’s no hand pass rule.”

Here’s the rule in question, which is part of Rule 67 – Handling Puck.

67.3: A goalkeeper shall be assessed a minor penalty when he throws the puck forward towards the opponent’s net. In the case where the puck thrown forward by the goalkeeper being taken by an opponent, the Referee shall allow the resulting play to be completed, and if a goal is scored by the non-offending team, it shall be allowed and no penalty given; but if a goal is not scored, play shall be stopped and a minor penalty shall be imposed against the goalkeeper.

The ref cam also gives a great look at the linesmen Chris Williams (#62) and Logan Bellgraph (#85) breaking up a scrum, including a chance to listen in on some of the chirping between players as the officials sort out the call.